Top Ten Maritime News Stories 05/02/2016

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 05/02/2016


1. Baltic Slips Again

The Baltic Dry Index has fallen a further five points to reach 298 today, falling below the 300-mark for the first time in its history as dry shipping markets continue to weaken. The Baltic indices for all dry shipping segments contracted again today, apart from the Baltic Panamax Index (BPI). The BPI advanced five points and was assessed at 289 on the back of busy chartering activity in the Atlantic basin as a steady stream of cargoes comes out of South America ahead of Chinese New Year. Intra-Asia panamax fixtures, however, have been few and far between. The industry has been warned to keep a lid on their hopes for an upturn.


2. New Panama Locks Progress

After more than a year-long delay, a new set of larger locks for the Panama Canal will be complete by the end of June, the waterway’s administrator said on Wednesday, after builders repaired cracks that had formed in the concrete walls. The consortium building a third, bigger set of locks on one of the world’s busiest maritime routes, headed by Italy’s Salini Impregilo and Spain’s Sacyr, is now in testing, the final step before the project’s inauguration, said Jorge Quijano, who leads the Panama Canal Authority. Panama should start to benefit from the expansion in 2017, when the government foresees an extra $1.4 billion in revenue.


3. Dangers of Shipping for Europe

As Europe’s politicians struggle to control a deepening migrant crisis and staunch the rising threat of Islamist terrorism on their borders, little attention is being paid to the continent’s biggest frontier: the sea.  New data highlight the extent to which smuggling, bogus shipping logs, unusual coastal stop-offs and inexplicable voyages are increasing across the Mediterranean and Atlantic for ships passing through Europe’s ports — with little or nothing being done to combat the trend. There is currently no comprehensive system to track shipments and cargos through EU ports and along its approximately 70,000km of coastline.


4. Hijacked Tanker Under Guard

The navy of Benin is guarding a Greek-owned oil tanker hijacked by Nigerian militants who are holding five crew members hostage in Nigeria, a Nigerian agency that issues government statements and a shipping security expert said Wednesday. The "MT Leon Dias" is anchored off Cotonou, Benin’s commercial capital. The hijackers disembarked from the vessel on Sunday and took five hostages with them — the captain, chief engineer, third engineer, the electrician and a fitter, said Dirk Steffen, maritime security director of Denmark-based Risk Intelligence. The ship then sailed to Cotonou, he told The Associated Press.



5. Suez Canal Sees Traffic Decline

The bulk and container traffic through the Suez Canal decreased in 2015. The volume of containerized cargo passing through the Canal for the reported period dropped with 2.3% to 41.2 million TEU, as the number of container ships decreased with 3% to 5,941. The recession has increased more serious in the second half of the year, despite the completion of the channel reconstruction in August, which provided an opportunity for simultaneous passage of ships in both directions. The decrease of global shipping and economy delay of China are among the main factors for the decrease of traffic through the Suez Canal.



6. Owners Still a Scrapping Concern

In spite of mounting pressure from governments and lobbyists, during 2015 shipowners continued to scrap vessels at shipbreaking yards known to pollute the environment and have dangerous working conditions, NGO Shipbreaking Platform claims. The worst culprits are Greek shipowners, who last year sold 87 ships to South Asian shipbreaking yards – more than any other nation, according to the NGO’s data. “Backed by the Greek government, they continue to refuse liability for the damage done to workers and the environment in South Asia,” NGO Shipbreaking Platform commented.



7. Cruise Ship Misery

More than 150 passengers have been struck down with a gastro bug on board a cruise ship that has docked in Sydney after a 12-day trip to New Zealand. The Diamond Princess cruise ship arrived at Circular Quay on Thursday morning with 158 passengers suffering from norovirus gastroenteritis. South Eastern Sydney Local Health District said the passengers and a small number of crew had come down with a bug and were attended to by the ship’s doctor. There were no medical disembarkations or admissions to hospital. One passenger said she was in bed for just one day following a bout of vomiting, but said the staff looked after her well.



8. Asking Seafarers for Guidance

Shipping has not been especially good at asking the users of its assets – the seafarers – how to improve designs. This could change with news today that the Nautical Institute and CIRM, the principal international association for marine electronics companies, have launched a joint initiative to improve the usability of navigation and communication technology onboard ships. David Patraiko, director of projects for The Nautical Institute, “As a design concept goes, this all makes perfect sense. Many mariners are keen to offer feedback into the design process but struggle to identify how to.”



9. Exercise to Tackle Piracy

Seventeen nations’ navies, coast guards and security forces are in the middle of a maritime security exercise in the western Indian Ocean that aims to boost capability and cooperation in the region as it faces piracy, trafficking and other concerns. Cutlass Express 2016, which began Jan. 30 and runs until Feb. 6, is sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and is meant to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices, according to a Navy statement. Scenarios will test watchstanders’ ability to respond to illicit trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing, and search and rescue situations, according to a Navy statement.




10. Hong Kong on the Slide

Container throughput of the Port of Hong Kong has decreased with 9.5% in 2015, amounting to 20.11 million TEU. The main factors for the bad annual report continue to be the global financial crisis and delay of the Chinese economy. In particular, the transshipment of containers through Kwai Tsing, which is the largest container terminal in Hong Kong, totalled 15.57 million TEU in 2015, which represent a decrease of 11.5%. The handling of containers for import through the terminal amounted to 8.02 million TEU, representing a decrease of 11.1%, while the handling of containers for export amounted to a decrease of 11,8%.




Daily news feed from Seacurus Ltd – providers of MLC crew insurance solutions


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